Flanger Inner Space/Outer Space Review

Released 2001.  

BBC Review

The music here is in a constant state of flux...

Peter Marsh 2002

It's jazz, Jim, but not as we know it....Flanger's two previous records on Ntone recast early 1970s spacey jazz fusion as the product of a software engineers fantasy. Blurring the lines between what's been played and what's been digitally generated, Burnt Friedman and Uwe Schmidt's music was playful, eartickling and occasionally ridiculously funky. Friedman's solo work in particular (check 1999s wonderful Con Ritmo) has been playing with notions of real and cyber musicianship, forcing crisp, funk derived drum patterns into hyperspeed blurs that Jack DeJohnette would be hard pressed to replicate.

Inner Space takes things a bit further by introducing real instruments into the mix, courtesy of a bunch of Latin American rhythm players and Danish soloists. The resulting brew is warmer and more organic than previous outings; Thomas Hass's tenor and Carsten Skov's vibes provide a harmonic sophistication and coherence lacking in Schmidt and Friedmann's limited keyboard skills, leaving the duo to concentrate on providing texturally rich and rhythmically propulsive backdrops, which is after all what they're best at. The music here is in a constant state of flux; sonically incredibly rich and marrying warm Zawinul-esque Fender Rhodes piano with digital glitches, dubby atmospherics, intricate layers of percussion and Friedmans trademark drum manipulations.

The second half of "La Dernier Combat" drags the propulsive funk of Herbie Hancocks Thrust into the 21st century with a ferocious slap bass and percussion dialogue topped off by fat analogue synth riffs, while the opening "Outer Space/Inner Space" is possibly the strongest track, mainly due to Hass's probing tenor explorations which dig deep into Friedmann's intricate rhythmic matrix. Elsewhere the single "Inner Spacesuit" is a clavinet soaked groovathon, while the closing "Himflug" suggests the MJQ as the inhouse band on board a Cuban space station. Flanger's strongest suit is their refusal to lazily appropriate notions of jazz cool in the manner of many of the so called 'Nu Jazz outfits'. Theirs is a brave new world where the tenor saxophone and the Powerbook can sit happily alongside each other in a virtual jam session. (Inner)Space is the Place.

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